This paper draws on the findings of a study that aimed to explore how eight older people, living in four English care homes, experienced daily life and the factors that influenced and shaped their experience. These people participated in a sequence of up to eight narrative interviews over a six-month period. The findings revealed that the lives of these individuals differed markedly. Some felt that their lives had been enriched when they entered a place where they had increased opportunities for meaning, purpose and satisfaction. They described this experience as ‘living with care’. Others felt that they were restricted — they had little choice in what they did and who they interacted with. Their views were not taken into consideration, and their daily life revolved around the routines and the regimes of the institution. These people described their experience as little more than ‘existing in care’. Six dimensions of care home life influenced the individual's experience. These were: ‘caring for oneself’ or ‘being cared for’; ‘being in control’ or ‘losing control’; ’relating to others’ or ‘putting up with others’; ‘active use and choice of space’ or ‘occupying space’; ‘engaging in meaningful activity’ or ‘lacking meaningful activity’ and ‘having an enriched private life’ or ‘having an impoverished private life’. Older people desire to ‘live with care’. This is not only possible, it is achievable. The paper concludes with a discussion about what can be learnt from the insights gained through the stories that were told by these older people to help manage the ‘lived’ quality of life of older residents.
|Journal of Care Services Management
|Published - 2009